Random Thursday

Photo (highly retouched): foggy sunrise via drone

Howdy, fellow Gazetteers, and welcome to this special edition of Random Thursday.

Just kidding…it’s the same old stuff; sorry if I got your hopes up. But at least you can still celebrate National Milk Day. And guess what? Even if you don’t like milk, buy a gallon, pour it on the floor, summon a loved one (or even a stranger), and celebrate National Step in a Puddle and Splash Your Friends Day. Hilarity will ensue…possibly. But if not, gently but firmly blame your not-to-be-denied muse:

I hardly ever use cash anymore, even though I generally carry a few bills with me, just in case. Now that almost everyone accepts contactless payments, more often than not I just use ApplePay on my watch to pay via a debit card.

Yesterday was an exception, as I bought a quart of milk at the local market and felt kind of dumb paying for it with a card, even if it was just an exchange of electrons (I guess). So I handed the clerk a fin (one of almost a trillion that were printed in 2018 alone) and pocketed the dollar bill and coins in change. Those coins are one of the main reasons I don’t like to use cash, because I never use them for subsequent purchases.

It had been a long time since I’d looked closely at coins and as I was getting ready to feed our piggy bank (which is actually a goose), a particularly shiny quarter caught my eye. The “tail” side of the coin appeared to feature…bats. I took a photo and enlarged it so I could confirm what I thought I was seeing:

Photo: Reverse side of a quarter commemorating the National Park of American Samoa
This shall foreverafter be known at the Bat Coin, the storage vault for which is in the…don’t make me say it…

This coin commemorates the National Park of American Samoa — did you know that such existed? — and the reverse side shows a Samoan fruit bat mother hanging upside down, young one (a pup) clinging to her. This coin is part of the America The Beautiful Quarters Program, which was started in 2010 and contains 56 different National Park scenes — one for each state, territory, and the District of Columbia. [The park chosen for Texas is the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.]

I’m happy that I decided to use cash for a change (or for THE change), but now that I’ve seen the Bat Coin, I have no desire to see any others as they can’t possibly live up to that exciting standard.

It’s been an extremely mild winter thus far in the Texas Hill Country but that’s about to come to a screeching halt. Today’s high temperature in Horseshoe Bay is supposed to be 76º; the low temperature next Monday morning is forecase to be more than sixty degrees colder than that. So, for the first time in almost a year, I’ve loaded a wheelbarrow with firewood from the aging stack outside of our back fence.

Most of the wood that I split still had loose bark, so I peeled it, primarily to reduce the mess when I carry the wood inside the house to put in the fireplace. Plus, it sometimes seems like logs with bark don’t burn as easily as those without, but I can’t find any scientific support for this observation, other than some bark has a slightly higher moisture content than the wood it protects.

The real advantage to peeling that loose bark was quickly evident. Under one strip of bark I found a hibernating ladybug. And this is what I uncovered under another piece:

Photo: A tiny house gecko sought protection from the elements under the bark of a piece of firewood
Fortunately, barbecue gecko was not on the menu.

This tiny Mediterranean house gecko’ choice of a winter hiding spot was fraught with danger, and although he didn’t seem to be amused by his exposure, he wouldn’t have appreciated the alternative in the least.

Speaking of weather, a cold front that rolled through the area a couple of days ago presented a rather dramatic scene. I posted the following photo on Facebook, so some of you may have already seen it.

It looked threatening, but only brought some rain and high winds.

I took that photo from the parking lot of a CVS in Marble Falls that overlooks Lake Marble Falls and one of the city’s parks.

I thought the scene as captured by my phone’s camera was pretty impressive, but I also thought I could, you know, punch it up a little to increase the drama. Here’s what I was able to do, again using only the edit function on my iPhone’s Photos app.

If you want to view larger (2016 x 1512 pixels) versions of these photos, click here for the original version and here for the retouched version.

Closing Shot: Well, which is it?

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